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Q. Dear Umbra,
My boyfriend is moving downtown to be closer to his job, which also happens to be closer to me. He wanted to shop for furniture at IKEA, and I agreed I would go if we went to a local vintage market first. He didn't really care about the market (not his taste I guess) and fell in love with a full-blown living room set at IKEA, which he plans to buy all new with a few upcycled pieces as "an accent.” Is there any way to move him from made-in-China matchy-matchy to upcycled oasis without being a sustainabitch about it?
A. Dearest Katie,
Wow. This letter is juicier than a horse meatball! Where to begin?
I assume you both are relatively young, as your boyfriend has apparently never had to furnish a flat before. If I’m wrong, and he’s tossing old living room furniture in favor of a shiny new set, then we are dealing with another problem entirely. It also seems you’ve been together long enough to be committed, to a point: He’s moving closer (but not in!) and you’re shopping together (but not at the same stores!). If your relationship were newer, he would have pretended to love the vintage market and possibly ended up with a musty mauve loveseat as the centerpiece of his apartment. Or you would have cooed over Ektorp sofas and Poäng chairs and not suggested that his consumer choices were misguided.
So here you are, in a pretty committed relationship, dealing with a situation that is part eco-debate and part mundane argument about furniture. Excellent practice for marriage, as it happens.